Black Excellence

Promoting Mental Health in Youth Through Music Production

 

The conversation around mental health continues to be more and more critical. Over the past two years, we’ve seen how crucial it is to care for our minds, bodies, and overall well-being. We all have different tools or practices in how we make efforts to take care of our minds. That can be through writing, talking to a therapist, exercising, and more.

Another outlet that many people tend to use to reduce stress is music. One organization in particular highlights the importance of music for your mental health. 

Music For Your Mental Health (MFYMH) is a unique program guided by Grammy-nominated music producers and therapists, fostering the creation of music as a therapeutic tool for youths 4 to 18. The MFYMH team has six incredible members who share their knowledge and expertise to connect with others and show how to foster growth through music. 

  • Haskel Jackson, Jr: Chief Executive Officer (he/him)
  • Jared Baisley, Chief Operations Officer (he/him)
  • Sean McBride, Chief Financial Officer (he/him)
  • Élishia Sharie Baisley, Chief Brand Officer (she/her)
  • Stevie McBride, Clinical Director (he/him)
  • Sean Lewis, Curriculum Director (he/him)

Through this program, their mission is to help youth become more comfortable in their self-expression, providing them with the necessary tools, workshops, and a safe space to express their feelings. Moreover, MFYMH creates fun environments that allow students to increase their social skills and practice communicating their ideas and feelings through song structures.

COO Jared Baisley took some time to tell me more about MFYMH, the work they’re doing, and how they want to continue supporting the youth and their mental health. 

The Creation of Music for Your Mental Health

BE: Can you share how MFYMH started? 

JB: MFYMH started as an idea shared between 7 times Grammy-nominated producer Haskel Jackson and music producer Jared Baisley. The idea was to extend music and the safe mental space that the studio provided to individuals of all ages. The concept of this unique form of music therapy quickly evolved to include songwriter and LMFT Stevie McBride. 

BE: All of the MFYMH team has experience in music or a passion for it. What does it mean to you to combine mental health and music as a way to help others? How do you incorporate that into your students’ programming? 

JB: The MFYMH team believes that music is medicine. Combining music with mental health allows students the opportunity to analyze, explore, and create specialized remedies in the form of a song. In the classroom, students are provided with a safe space where they are encouraged to express themselves. Engaging verbal, auditory, and written exercises further promote an atmosphere of mental health and growth.  

BE: COVID has affected many of us, especially youth. How is MFYMH supporting and keeping students encouraged during a challenging time?

JB: At the onset of the pandemic, MFYMH launched virtual workshops for students who needed alternative outlets. Each week MFYMH facilitators invited students to collaborate on musical projects virtually. MFYMH continues to keep students encouraged by offering in-person and virtual workshops for ages 4 and up.

How Music For Your Mental Health is Helping Others and Growing

BE:  It’s so refreshing and inspiring to see a program that centers around youth’s mental health and doing this work with them at such pivotal ages. What has been your favorite or most meaningful part of this work?  

JB: The most meaningful part of the work MFYMH does will always be our workshops’ impact on students. Each workshop begins and ends with a check-in. It is enriching to see the positive, tangible results of music on our participants’ behavior and overall moods.

BE: There is often a stigma in the Black community around mental health and adopting different forms of therapy. Being a Black team, how does it feel to be having conversations about mental health and dismantling those stigmas through the positive work you’re doing through MFYMH? 

JB: Representation matters, especially in the field of mental health and music therapy. To be a Black team in this space is a great privilege. Every conversation the MFYMH team has about mental health brings us one step closer to healing as a community. 

Getting Involved with Music For Your Mental Health

BE: What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced and had to overcome with creating this program? What valuable lessons have you learned from them, and how has it kept all of you going? 

JB: One of the greatest challenges was finding the right organizations to partner with. Another challenge was learning to articulate the need for and value of MFYMH in and around our communities. In those challenges, the team learned the value of patience, consistency, and vision. The no’s only resulted in more passionate pursuit of our goals. 

RELATED ARTICLE: BLACK MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS, TOO

BE: Whether short-term or long-term, what are some goals that you and the MFYMH team would love to accomplish? How can the community help you in achieving these? 

JB: MFYMH’s short-term goal is to continue to provide workshops throughout all Southern California school districts. Our long-term goal is to provide our workshops in schools, hospitals, and homes around the world. The community can help us achieve these goals by sharing our website with other educators, friends, or family members interested in our program. MFYMH also accepts donations via our website at www.musicforyourmental.org 

Kris Crews

Kris Crews is a writer from Columbus, Ohio. Writing was always something she had a knack for, but once she started her undergraduate experience, she found that writing was a passion of hers that she wanted to pursue more seriously. In 2017, she graduated with a B.A. in journalism and media communications. Pursuing this field allowed her to develop her skills as a writer, and with time and hard work, she sent out work that was then published by MTV, Huffington Post and Elite Daily. Currently, she is writing her first book.